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3 Groundbreaking Asian-American Veterinarians

For Asian-American and Pacific Islander history month, we wanted to shine a light on some early Asian-American veterinarians. In many cases, these graduates were first-generation immigrants. Some returned to their country of origin, but their impact on the profession in the US should still be highlighted.

Dr. Tomizo Katsunuma

One of the first Asian-American Veterinarians we found in our research was Dr. Tomizo Katsunuma from Japan. Originally trained in veterinary science in Japan, Dr. Katsunuma came to the US in 1889 and took a position at the Patriotic League in San Francisco helping new immigrants with paperwork, translations, and more. He eventually returned to veterinary work, a pattern that continued throughout his career, working with sheep in Idaho and Utah, and then studying at BYU’s agricultural school in 1895/6.  At this time, he also converted to Mormonism and took US citizenship. With his studies at BYU, Dr. Katsunuma is the first Japanese-American veterinarian. 

In 1897, he took another position helping immigrants, this time in Hawaii. He returned to Japan to visit his wife in 1898, and brought his family to Hawaii in 1899. In 1890, he took a position with the US government as an immigration inspector until 1924. He continued to practice veterinary medicine in Hawaii, and also became a community leader and noted writer.

Dr. Victor Arbeu Buencamino

In 1911, Dr. Victor Arbeu Buencamino became the first Filipino veterinarian after graduating from Cornell. After graduation, Dr. Buencamino returned to the Philippines to become a driving force in the veterinary field. At this time, the Philippines was under US rule, so his achievements are very notable. 

He was the first Filipino President of the Philippine Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), and then went on to be the first Filipino to found a veterinary hospital in the Philippines.

He was heavily involved with the agriculture department, ascending to Vice-Chairman of the National Produce Exchange. Dr. Buencamino was also instrumental in the founding of the College of Veterinary Science in the University of the Philippines. We’d like to extend a special thank you to Cornell University for highlighting Dr. Buencamino.

Dr. Luo Qingshen

The first Chinese DVM, Luo Qingshen (罗清生), graduated from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1923. After graduation, he returned to China, bringing his knowledge and experience with him. He was instrumental in China’s veterinary educational system. Here’s just a short list of some of his contributions:

  • Co-founded the School of Veterinary Medicine of Nanjing Agricultural University
  • Founded Chinese Society of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine
  • Published the first Chinese animal husbandry and veterinary academic journal
  • Published the first Chinese veterinary textbook

As you can see, Asians and Asian-Americans have been involved in building veterinary medicine both in the US and across the world for over a century. Hopefully, you’ll find inspiration in these early pioneers to further your own career. If you know of an Asian-American veterinary pioneer, let us know!